Oh, my friends, it’s the most wonderful time of the year – it’s Shark Week 2014. In case you don’t already know, Shark Week is a magical seven-day spectacle each year when the Discovery Channel shows nothing but shark-themed programming – everything from a program delving into the mystery of the submarine shark, a legendary 30-foot great white that terrorized the South African coast in the 1970s (so much for overcoming my irrational fear of the ocean) to an episode of “Sharks After Dark” where the LA Beast attempted to eat a shark cactus. Yes, that does sound terrible. No, I didn’t make it up. But I digress.
In the spirit of this seven-day salute to Selachimorpha (science!), we thought we’d take a moment to talk about a different species of shark – the type you find in the corner office. Everyone has worked with (or, worse, for) a shark – a ruthless individual set on self-advancement at any cost. In a survey of more than 700 people we conducted last year, more than 81% of people said they had been lied to, stolen from, cheated, or betrayed by a boss or coworker.
How do so cutthroat people make it to the top? Unfortunately, the corporate structure at most large organizations are tailored to reward the type of personality characteristics typical of sharks – charisma, self-absorption, ruthless ambition, self-deception, and a driving need for external validation. To learn more about how to identify and protect yourself from a shark (the kind at work – you’re on your own when it comes to the other kind), check out our free ebooks, “Trust and Betrayal” and “6 Ways to Keep Your Managers Honest”.